Conga in the Congo


We drove dull suburban English Austin Cambridges and Wolsleys whereas my parent’s Congolese friends drove an American Ford Fairlane which seemed to fill up both lanes of our narrow English country lane roads when they paid us a visit. The Belgians lived extravagantly, we lived frugally; not that we had any more wealth to show of it in the end.

The Congolese Africans were different too, they were addicted to Rhumba music, table wine, cheap whiskey and revelry, and their townships pulsated to an energetic dance called Kwasa-Kwasa: and their Belgian masters, unlike the didactic and prude British, didn’t seem to mind, and sometimes joined in. Congolese musicians were the trend setters in modern commercialized African Music.We had police bands and army bands that played pleasant English melodies, as well as God Save the Queen and Britannia Rules the Waves, while independent Congolese jazz ‘orchestres’ were on the stage in Brussels and Paris with their cosmopolitan taste and talent for lively jazz with an energetic afro-beat.

Allan Taylor, author Luanshya musings


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